Sending Violet to School — Update on Violet

Two years ago, I put an appeal on this web site for someone to sponsor Violet. No one else stepped forward, and I have sponsored Violet myself. I am leaving that appeal on this site to remind me where Violet came from, and to show readers the incredible and awesome ability that YOU have to change someone's life.

In that appeal, I said that Violet would be an excellent communicator, that whoever sponsored her would be in for an amazing time, and I guaranteed this will be one of the most rewarding things you have ever done. All of those have proven to be understatements.

Today Violet is in her second year of college at Moi University in Eldoret. She loves it and she is thriving. Over the past two years, I have learned that when she was the head girl at her high school, she was entitled to eat lunch with the faculty. Instead, she did not take her lunch until all the other students had taken theirs. When she got to college, she did volunteer work visiting prisoners in a squalid Kenyan jail. When she was hospitalized, she made friends with a young boy who had horribly disfiguring burns, and still visits him many months later.

Violet and I have spoken often about the transformation in her life. We have exchanged innumerable WhatsApp messages and photos. During our December 2016 trip, Violet was on a school break and accompanied us the whole week. I got to watch her operate up close. She has blossomed into a beautiful woman with confidence and a certain swagger. She was equally comfortable charming little children and ordering around 19 and 20 year old boys. Kids of all ages looked at her in awe. We visited the site at her high school where we first bonded over the gifts of her cheerful greeting and a red bandana I gave her. She took us to her parents' house to visit with them. Now she lives in a different world than they do.

I have come to understand that, when you change someone's life, that changes your own life, and a bond is formed that defies explanation or adequate description.

Violet and I shared a remarkable moment that goes to the heart and soul of our foundation's mission. At a primary school way out in the midst of rice paddies, a little girl named Rosie stood out from the throng because of her personality, despite the fact that she was wearing a ratty red stocking cap that drooped almost over her eyes, a tattered t-shirt, and a worn, ill-fitting skirt. Some kids just jump out at you, like Violet did with me years earlier. After playing catch with Rosie, I offered her a pink bandana. Violet immediately came over and folded and tied the bandana for her. She removed the stocking cap and Violet and I looked at each other and said, “Oh my God, she is so beautiful!” This was the emergence from the mask of poverty of the beauty of this child, of all the children, of this country. We both knew: “we are going to change this kid's life.” Not “you are going to change her life.” WE. Then we nicknamed little Rosie. She is Violet Junior.